Liebe Familie und Freunde!
This was a very busy week! I am really glad it is over! Zone Training Meeting, lots of appointments, and TWO exchanges! Yikes!
Our Zone Training Meeting in Kiel was really great. We watched some new, really interesting videos produced by the church for missionaries about the gift of tongues. They profiled a few missionaries serving in Tahiti. They have a six-week course in French in the MTC and then a six-week course in Tahitian, which is taught in french. Then they go to the mission field. German is THAT hard! HA!
Personally, the language has never been a problem for me. I think my high school and college studying helped… okay, I KNOW it helped! But seeing the missionaries teach some lessons and walk around the “island climate” gave me a new perspective on the work. I get all these weekly emails from friends on missions in the Philippines, Australia, America, Brazil, Europe. We are all somehow doing the same thing, in different ways. What works in one country probably would not work in northern Germany. I love the culture where I am serving and know that I was called here to be with the people, the members, and the other missionaries who are now around me.
At our Zone Training Meeting, I was reminded so strongly of my own baptism, or rather of my own special covenant (Bündniss, auf Deutsch). We have all made the very same connection to our Heavenly Father, us members of the Church. But I see it like many thousands, millions even, of strings tied to us, going all the way up to the Heavens. Each string is singular. There is no mass promise; God does not take a stamp and slam it on our baptismal forms, “APPROVED.” I have MY own covenant and everyone has, and can have, their own claim to God and His blessings.
What does my baptism, my covenant, mean to me? On the day I was baptized, I forget the circumstances, but someone brought me home afterwards, (I think I had a Scout activity right after the baptism). I opened the gifts some members had given me. I will never forget opening the gift I received from the Smyth Family. It was a beautiful, brand new quadruple-combination (Old & New Testaments, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price) with gilded pages and tabs for all the books. I did not know what to think. I remember when I came home on that sunny day, I felt like I had so much more worth than I previously had. Through all the searching I had done, what I had come across was what I needed. And the scriptures, they were a physical manifestation of the words Heavenly Father spoke to me: “I love you.” And they still stand as a testimony of a loving God’s attention and concern for us.
So what does it all means to me? I can answer that with what I want others all around me and in all the world to have: worth, purpose, faith which grounds, confirmations in the heart – not the mind – of truth, revelation, and forgiveness from the Almighty of past wrongs.
I want to include all six verses of the hymn “How Firm a Foundation, ” number 85 in the english hymnbook. We sang a few of these verses in the german version, “Wie Fest wie ein Felsen:”
How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!What more can he say than to you he hath said,Who unto the Savior, who unto the Savior,Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?
In ev’ry condition–in sickness, in health,In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,At home or abroad, on the land or the sea–As thy days may demand, as thy days may demand,As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.
Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee,And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.The flame shall not hurt thee; I only designThy dross to consume, thy dross to consume,Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
E’en down to old age, all my people shall proveMy sov’reign, eternal, unchangeable love;And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn,Like lambs shall they still, like lambs shall they still,Like lambs shall they still in my bosom be borne.
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for reposeI will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!
Elder RR Hoffman
Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage
Germany Berlin Mission